A few days ago I traveled from Sharjah, UAE and landed briefly in Doha, Qatar. A city of one million, Doha is the capital of the emirate of Qatar, a desert land in the Persian Gulf. Like others of its kind, Qatar has a long history of pearling and a shorter history of oil and natural gas drilling to keep the money flowing in.
Rich in funds, beautiful and exotic, Doha had some really nice sights to keep me entertained. I, like most people, found the Souq Waqif to be by far its biggest draw. Souqs, or outdoor marketplaces in the Arab world, are usually excessively interesting. Despite tough competition, Doha is now in the top three of my all-time favorites.
Immersed in the dark and narrow winding corridors of Souq Waqif, I popped out unexpectedly into daylight. Suddenly, the chirps of hundreds of birds began reverberating off the stone walls. Dozens of white metal cages held little birds of yellow, green and blue. Next to the cages were small round and flat tables holding tiny rabbits. They sat placid and immobile, with none of the playfulness of babies, leading me to think these must be the smallest full-grown rabbits on earth. Their minders as well as the occasional passer-by would occasionally abruptly grab one by its middle and lift it up to inspect, like they were dead pieces of meat rather than cuddly living beings. It was a disturbing sight, but I chalked it up to a cultural difference.
Since few travelers ever make it to Souq Waqif in Doha, Qatar, here’s a clip to show you a little of what you’re missing.